I’m like the Carolina Panthers. I get hot late. Carolina made the move in early December. I made mine last week.
Last week: 14-2
Lock of the week: Picked New Orleans (+3) over Dallas. My Saints came through.
Upset of the week: Picked Cincinnati (+3) to beat Pittsburgh. My beloved Bengals won.
This week’s picks, with the home team in CAPS:
Uset of the week
Carolina (+5) 33, NEW ORLEANS 31: Why not?
This one could be bountiful. Saints ran up the score a year ago, and Carolina will remember. Won’t mean a thing if Panthers can’t play but they are the kings of late-season respectability. Saints are finishing well, too. They shut out Tampa Bay two weeks ago and upset Dallas in Dallas last week. I love the city of New Orleans. I can’t think of a better destination, or opponent, with which to end the season. Bonus predictions: Steve Smith will have a huge game; just when you’re yelling at Captain Munnerlyn he’ll make the play that preserves the victory; Panthers fans heading to New Orleans will have a fine time.
BUFFALO 16, New York Jets 13: An aside: The Panthers aren’t moving to Los Angeles. You panicky fans who were convinced Carolina was heading west ought to be embarrassed, although you’ve undoubtedly found something new to panic about. Why the gratuitous Los Angeles reference? Because: (a) I like gratuitous references; (b) I don’t like being around panicky people; and (c) a Los Angeles NFL team has been as likely to win as a New York NFL team has. (But the Giants win today.)
NEW YORK GIANTS 19, Philadelphia 17: As nasty as Philadelphia fans can be, they understand. They understand how good Andy Reid has been, and for how long. An NBA coach once told me that there comes a time when players stop listening. That coach was fired the next season. Reid will go after this one. But he was good, and he was honorable, and he will be a head coach (not with the Carolina or Los Angeles Panthers) again.
Green Bay 28, MINNESOTA 27: The Vikings have a great opportunity. They’re playing their biggest rival. Their running back, the amazing Adrian Peterson, has the opportunity to set the all-time record for rushing yards. And if they win, they’re in the playoffs. I was in Minneapolis most of the week. Left the restaurant and walked three-quarters of a block to the car. Even my bones were cold. It was nine degrees. It was Nome. They live in this stuff. This game will keep them warm. They’ve earned that.
TENNESSEE 23, Jacksonville 17
CINCINNATI 24, Baltimore 23
PITTSBURGH 20, Cleveland 16
Houston 26, INDIANAPOLIS 23
Chicago 20, DETROIT 17
ATLANTA 24, Tampa Bay 20
SAN DIEGO 31, Oakland 19
SAN FRANCISCO 26, Arizona 10
SEATTLE 27, St. Louis 20
DENVER 28, Kansas City 13
NEW ENGLAND 28, Miami 20
Lock of the week
WASHINGTON (-3) 29, Dallas 24: I think Dallas wins this game. I thought Dallas would beat New Orleans last week. But my Locks until last week had been putrid. So I picked against myself. Why change?